Twitter report reveals governments are increasingly turning against journalists

The volition of governmental forces on social media shows no sign of slowing down. In the second half of 2020, as political tension reached its peak, social media website Twitter saw an increased number of governmental figures demanding the removal of content.

Twitter sees increased governmental demands

Published in Twitter's biannual transparency report, via CD, the latter half of 2020 was a firestorm for the platform. According to Twitter, governmental demand to remove journalistic content increased heavily.

The report claims that governments targeted nearly 200 verified journalists and outlets to try and remove content. Twitter explains that the number of demands increased by a total of 26% over the first half of 2020, which also saw huge numbers.

The report states that the demand targeted: “199 accounts of verified journalists and news outlets” which were “subject to 361 legal demands.” These increased demands correlate to the social media’s improved misinformation features on the platform.

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Where do these demands come from?

Contrary to popular belief, the United States was not at the top of these requests. However, this is the US' first time out of the top spot. In first place is India which issued 128 removal requests. Second, Turkey with 108 requests, followed by Pakistan (52) and Russia (28).

The total list of removal requests incudes a huge list of countries with relatively small numbers of requests. Despite the increased number of overall requests to stifle journalistic content, Twitter rarely took down content.

Amid 361 demands, Twitter only removed five tweets from verified journalists and outlets. Four of those five posts that were taken down were Brazil; one request that was acted upon was from France. For the most part, Twitter has not acted on the demands of governmental figures.

The social media giant’s transparency report does suggest that the company is acting in defence of journalists. After a tough few years on the platform, the company has finally started to fact-check claims from verified sources – no doubt inspired by Former US President Donald Trump.

Hopefully, by the time the company's next transparency report comes around, the number of demands will have deceased. However, with the increase of countries like India turning against social media, that seems unlikely.

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